Exclusive: Cricket administrators Falaknaz, Abbas recall how Asia Cup was born in UAE

Few people know that the Asian Cricket Council's first office was also set up at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium


Rituraj Borkakoty

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Abdul Rahman Falaknaz (right), chairman of Dubai Cricket Council, and Mohammad Redha Abbas, vice-chairman of the council
Abdul Rahman Falaknaz (right), chairman of Dubai Cricket Council, and Mohammad Redha Abbas, vice-chairman of the council

Published: Wed 24 Aug 2022, 12:23 AM

Abdul Rahman Falaknaz, the Chairman of Dubai Cricket Council, says his heart swells with pride when he reflects on how the Asia Cup was born in this country.

Even before Sharjah became the most sought-after neutral cricket venue in the world, two Emiratis had played a big role in forming the Asian Cricket Council.

“I am very proud to say that when we formed the Asian Cricket Council in Delhi, the UAE was the only country that had two representatives. There was Mr Bukhatir from the Sharjah Cricket Council and I was from the Dubai Cricket Council. We were also helped by Mr Arif Abbasi, who was the chief of Pakistan Cricket Board. It was a fantastic day,” Falaknaz told Khaleej Times.

Few people know that the Asian Cricket Council’s first office was also set up at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

“We took the opportunity to host the first Asian Cricket Council meeting in Sharjah. In that meeting, I remember clearly that we decided to have the Asia Cup. So that’s how the Asia Cup started and it has been a fantastic tournament,” Falaknaz said.

Falaknaz, who first played cricket with his friends in the UAE in 1958, now can’t wait for the big clash between India and Pakistan on Sunday.

“It’s fantastic, it’s good for tourism in the country. We have people coming in from all over the world because they don’t see a lot of these India-Pakistan matches any more. These two teams only play in the World Cups and the Asia Cups. They don’t play bilateral matches any more, so everybody is eagerly waiting to see the match,” he said.

“They are likely to face in the Super Four as well and who knows both could meet in the final too. So there could be three India-Pakistan matches in the UAE this time. This is really exciting.

“And I feel very proud as an Emirati to be able to host such strong tournaments in the UAE.”

We received great support from India and Pakistan, says Abbas

The UAE, which is gearing up to host the Asia Cup for the fourth time, would not have seen so much success in cricket without the support from India and Pakistan.

Mohammad Redha Abbas, the vice-chairman of the Dubai Cricket Council, paid tribute to the BCCI and the PCB.

“The Indian and the Pakistan cricket boards supported us and we were able to hold the first meeting of the Asian Cricket Council. Without the support of those cricket boards, we would not have been able to host the first Asia Cup here,” Abbas told Khaleej Times.

The former UAE selector said the India-Pakistan clashes added an element of magic to the cricket tournaments in Sharjah.

“Seeing those matches in our country for the first time was an amazing experience. Before that we had only a Gavaskar XI vs Miandad XI exhibition match and a double wicket tournament,” he recalled.

“After the 1984 Asia Cup, ICC recognised us and Sharjah started hosting tournaments every year and became one of the most popular tournaments in the world.

"But again, we have to thank India and Pakistan for that. If they had not sent their teams, our tournaments would not have become so big.”

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